Problem: I read a lot of nonfiction. But 6 months after finishing a book I forget the key messages.
Solution: So what I’ve done recently is to use Evernote to outline a limited number of key take home points with every non-fiction book I read.
Simple. Effective. And it seems it pays off when I least expect it.
For example, during SXSH (social health unconference) I was in a session on community and the issue of movements came up in the discussion. I had read and taken some notes on Seth Godin’s Tribes which were relevant to the discussion. On my own I wouldn’t have been able to recall his definitions and points concerning tribes, communities and movements. I had notes on my iPhone Evernote App which immediately brought back Seth’s key points.This scenario has played out a few times with the couple of dozen books that I’ve ‘outlined.’Breaking it down, here’s how I read non-fiction these days:
Start by underlining. Despite owning a Kindle, much of my business reading is done on paper. This allows me to scribble and underline in pencil. At the end of each chapter I open my Evernote note for the book and boil down the chapter’s key points or definitions. I usually limit this to a dozen or so points or thoughts.Keep it brief. I don’t have time to be elaborate (but I can’t afford to forget what I read) so I keep my summary points brief. If what I do is unmanageable, I’m unlikely to do it. And remember that something’s better than nothing.
Enter on my machine – Read on my iPhone. It’s faster for me to enter text on my Macbook Pro so I usually start there. I type it in a way that I’ll be able to see it when it renders on my iPhone – I add an extra space between points and I put the chapter titles in bold. I keep formatting to a minimum since that just adds time to the process.
Keep a notebook. I keep all of my book notes in a separate Evernote notebook.
You may have heard that Evernote Premium account members are allowed to share notes and notebooks. While this is an option for you and your likeminded friends, it’s important to be able to recall what you think is important in language that you understand. It’s always tricky interpreting someone else’s summary language.
Remember that what you read is always obvious and fresh when you’re reading it. But at a time and place in the future when you may need to remember a brilliant point made by an author, your Evernote App will really come in handy.
Check out my corresponding Cinchcast on Using Evernote to Remember What You Read